It can sometimes be tempting to look back, reflect on success and momentarily forget about the future.
In truth, that’s what we did for about 90 minutes last month at a reception in the Churchill Room in the House of Commons, generously hosted by the former Care Minister Paul Burstow. The event was indeed designed to be part celebration of ten years of the Gold Standards Framework in Care Homes Training Programme.
And, immodest as it may sound, we think there’s good to reason to feel proud of what we have achieved over the last decade. Since its launch in 2004, more than 2,500 homes across the UK have completed the programme, reaching around 200,000 staff and improving the lives of an estimated one million residents and their families.
The sense of achievement was heightened by generous words from some of the most influential figures in the sector.
The Care Quality Commission’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: “Over the past ten years, the work of the National Gold Standards Framework Centre has helped to raise standards of care for many thousands of people in the final stages of their life, which we know is so important.
“Schemes like the Gold Standards Framework show that the delivery of high-quality and compassionate care is achievable.”
But it’s the last sentence of Andrea’s quote that matters most to us and prevents us from resting on our laurels. We know the job is a long way from being complete.
Getting more care homes on-board
There are thousands more care homes that could benefit and we understand that for many of them, particularly the smaller independent ones, there are barriers to participating in a programme like GSF. Cost and time are two obvious challenges for these homes.
We’ve listened and responded by creating a variety of more accessible versions of the GSF programme, all adhering to the same founding principles and designed to help care home staff make it possible for their residents to receive the care they want, where they want it.
It’s this founding principle and the fact that we have helped care homes meet the preferences of their residents of which we are most proud and drives us on to extend the reach of the programme.
On average, GSF homes reduce hospital admissions and enable the majority of their residents to die in their preferred place – their care home. If we can translate that across thousands more care homes, then not only will residents enjoy a better experience, but staff will feel more fulfilled and the strain on hospital beds will be greatly reduced.
The effect of GSF on homes is not purely quantitative. The programme can transform the culture of the whole home and affects residents’ care from the minute they enter the home.
In practical terms, homes that would like help and support to improve the care they offer their residents as they approach the final months of their life can now access the GSF programme in a number of new and flexible ways.
Gold, Silver and Bronze
We’ve already been piloting one of the options, the Silver Foundation level programme, with homes in Nottingham and Northampton with great success.
This version of the programme is designed for homes that are keen to start adopting the GSF principles but don’t yet feel ready to attempt the whole Premium Gold Programme. The Silver programme involves two workshops and some homework. A number of the homes in the Nottingham pilot are now moving on to the full Gold programme.
For those homes that just want to get a better understanding of what’s involved, there’s the GSF Basics Bronze option, which is an intensive day-long synopsis.
An option we think may well be popular is the Blended Learning – Gold programme. We’ve recently filmed the whole programme in action and the video is now available on DVD or GSF’s Virtual Learning Zone. And the Blended Learning programme uses this alongside interactive workshops. However, this option is only available to whole areas as a commissioned programme.
Our goal is to enable Gold Standard care to become the standard for all care home residents as they approach the end of their lives.
With this new flexible range of options we have removed the barriers preventing homes from accessing GSF programmes. As Churchill said: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” We urge all homes to Go for Gold, for the sake of their residents and staff.